BWW Previews: STRAZ' Broadway Stars of the Future Winners Heading to NYC For the Jimmys!
Throughout the school year, high school musical productions in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee Counties were reviewed by a panel of adjudicators, who submitted a nine-page critique to the Straz Center for Performing Arts.
Twenty-three schools, 20 productions, and 32 high school performers were reviewed. Among the categories considered were outstanding actors, actresses, technical design, orchestra, and set design. Nominees in the Best Actor and Actress category were submitted to perform in the Broadway Star of the Future Award Showcase at the Straz Center.
The Broadway Star of the Future Awards Showcase is Tampa Bay area's regional awards program affiliated with the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA) or the Jimmy Awards, named in honor of James M. Nederlander, renowned Broadway theater owner and producer.
Among those selected to perform in the showcase were H.B. Plant and Alonso High School students Maggie Musco, 17 and Christian Meany, 17.
Christian has been a Patel Conservatory student for several years and was nominated for his role in Big Fish as Will Bloom. Maggie, 17, was nominated for her portrayal of Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
"We based it (the award) primarily on their performance in the school, but then we brought those 32 nominees in and had them perform their best song from their show. That really was phenomenal," said Suzanne Livesay, Vice President of Arts Education at Straz Center for the Performing Arts. "At the end of the showcase, when we had to decide our best actor and best actress, it was hard because they all had won our hearts. We'd got to work with them through the week getting ready for the showcase. It turned into a local high school Tony Awards."
Little did Maggie and Christian know, by the end of their June 4 showcase performance that they would be chosen to represent The Straz Center at The Jimmys in New York less than a month later at Minskoff Theatre.
Presented by The Broadway League Foundation, on June 26, The Jimmys will recognize outstanding vocal, dance, and acting performance and offer the opportunity for Maggie, Christian and the other nominees to work with professional directors, coaches, producers, meet with agents and casting directors and be considered for several recognitions, including a $10,000 college scholarship.
"The Jimmy Awards has 72 students from all over the nation. Each performing arts center selects one boy and one girl to go to New York to represent their district," said Christian. "Two are then selected from the Jimmy Awards."
A future FSU political science and theatre major, Christian said that he was most excited to be around so many other extremely talented people. "I can't wait to talk to them and learn about their experiences in theatre."
Students live in the dorms at NYU Tish Center and rehearse daily with Broadway coaches and professionals, NYU faculty and other leaders in the industry.
"For nine days, they coach them on their songs, teach them a dance number, put together medleys from the shows in preparation for the Jimmys. On their final day, they perform on the Minskoff stage," Suzanne said. "We're very excited. Eva Noblezada was former Jimmy Award winner. She went on to play to play the role of Kim in Miss Saigon."
The accredited Patel Conservatory offers classes in dance, music and theater for students of all ages and experience levels. Each year, the Patel Conservatory and the Straz Center's arts education programs enrich the lives of more than 70,000 students in our classrooms, on our stages and through the community.